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The Secret Life of Anna Blanc
by Jennifer Kincheloe Pub Date: November 3, 2015
It’s 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals.
Determined to break free of the era’s rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles
Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.
If the police find out, she’ll get fired; if her father finds out, he’ll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he’ll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father’s collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief’s son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail.
Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.
Anna Blanc longs for a life of adventure, solving mysteries along with her beloved fictional heroes and heroines. The regimented life of a debutante in 1907 Los Angeles under the watchful eye of her banker father does not appeal to her. When an encounter at a rally for women’s rights introduces her to a local police matron, she becomes enamored with the idea of working for the police. In order to apply for a job as matron, Anna bribes her chaperone and takes on a new identity.
As matron, Anna becomes aware of a number of murders that the police have mistakenly labeled as suicides. No-one is interested because the victims are prostitutes, so it is Anna takes it upon herself to find the murderer.
Her secret life has other risks. If the police find her identity, she will be fired. If her father finds out, she will be either disowned or sent to a convent. If her fiancé finds out, she will be discredited and her reputation ruined.
Anna is intelligent and insightful, but she is also self-centered and impulsive, frequently throwing herself into dangerous situations. While her intentions are good, she rarely thinks about the affect her actions have upon others. Joe Singer, the police chief’s son quickly discovers Anna’s identity, but rather than reveal it, he keeps her secret and tries to keep her out of trouble - a course of action that frequently leads to trouble for him. While Anna’s lack of awareness is irritating at times, she is a believable product of her background and upbringing, and her misadventures are fun to follow.
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc is a well-written novel that will appeal to readers of women’s fiction and historical mysteries.
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc is available for preorder and will be released November 3, 2015.
I received a copy of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.